Environmentalist moves green tribunal over ‘ecological disaster’ in Bengal

Kolkata, Jan 4 (IANS) Claiming that northern West Bengal was steadily heading towards an ‘ecological disaster’ due to indiscriminate human interference, an environmentalist has approached the National Green Tribunal against the Mamata Banerjee government’s sanction to projects in core forest and eco-sensitive areas.

In his petition filed before the eastern bench of the NGT, Subhas Dutta enlisted various “illegal activities” including sand mining, stone crushing and mushrooming of hotels and resorts in sensitive areas that was threatening as many as 17 rivers.

“The most baffling fact is many of the hotel and resorts that have come in eco-sensitive areas including the Buxa Tiger Reserve, have been inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“Not only that, the state government’s eco-tourism hub in Gajoldoba (in Jalpaiguri district) has been sanctioned without the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA),” Dutta said on Monday, informing about the petition.

In his petition, Dutta attached 260 photographs detailing various illegal activities being carried out in river beds, eco-sensitive areas of forests, core areas of the tiger reserve and elephant corridors.

“As many as 17 rivers including the Teesta and Mahananda are being widely impacted due to rampant stone and sand mining, dumping of waste as well as human settlements on river beds,” said Dutta.

Besides the Bengal government, as many as eight state departments including the urban development, forest, environment and West Bengal Pollution Board have been made respondents in the petition.

The union environment and forest ministry has also been made a respondent in the petition for giving clearance to many such “illegal projects”.

“The respondents have violated various laws to allow these illegal activities and failed to protect the environment, forest and the rivers. So I have prayed for the bench to direct them to tak necessary steps to ensure north Bengal is saved from the imminent ecological disaster,” added Dutta.

The petition is slated for hearing on January 11.

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